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Footsteps
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Squeenix and Disney.

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After the king and his men have gone, the afternoon runs long, and they decide to stay on the play island, because none of them have any idea what they're going to do when they go back home. Not even Kairi has really thought that far ahead, and anyway, it's more important to be together now, to soak in the sun and the sand and the smell of the ocean, to appoint Riku as the unofficial pillow because "There's more of you than there is of us," and even though they're all exhausted none of them fall asleep, too drugged on relief and adrenaline to do anything more than lie there quietly and cling.

At sunset, Sora drapes himself over Riku's middle and whispers "Curaga" against the already mostly-healed wound, and they're all feeling lazy enough that digging around in their pockets provides all the dinner they need, sparkling hi-potions and softly-shimmering ethers that survived the final battle, just enough to refresh but nothing heavy enough to restore, little vials passed from one to the other until they're gone.

"You know," Sora says, staring rather thoughtfully at an empty bottle, "if anybody's sick, we're kind of in trouble."

Riku's hands are halfway through raising when Kairi slaps them down again. "No conjuring potions when you're this tired!"

"You didn't stop Sora."

"I couldn't figure out what he was trying to do."

"I was fixing him!"

"...Sora, you were slobbering on him. You hiked up his shirt so you could slobber on him."

"...well it worked," he points out rather sulkily. "Riku's better, mostly."

That's true about a lot of things, she thinks, and brushes her fingers through salt-laden bangs of spun silver and spiky brown. "Boys are dumb," she declares with an authority that neither boy is foolish enough to question, though Riku looks like he might try right up to the point where Sora gives him a discreet elbow to the stomach.

"Ow," Riku says, and pokes his cheek.

"Ow," Sora replies, giving Riku a narrow-eyed glare, and two minutes later Kairi is watching in satisfaction as the empty bottle she's thrown whacks him on the head and interrupts the vicious poking match that Riku was clearly winning by virtue of having longer arms.

Sora pouts, scowls, and grumbles a bit, but when they swat at him, he stills and curls and settles, halfway sprawled across the sand, halfway sprawled across the two of them. It's easy enough to coax him into drowsy contentment with a few caresses on her part and Riku messing with his hair, and for a time, all is quiet, just the sound of the waves and the touch of their hands, just watching the stars come out.

Sora gets up a half hour later from their comfortable drowsing pile, meanders his way out to the little island, and comes back bearing a paopu fruit. He holds it out like an offering, or a promise, and if his eyes are a little shy, his hands are steady, and she exchanges a quick glance with Riku, and Sora's smile is breathtaking as he carefully places it into their outstretched hands.

It turns out that a single paopu is shockingly easy to shred into thirds, and Sora's ears are turning pink as he leans forward to bite down on the fruit, and she's not quite sure, but maybe there's a spark there that makes him linger over their outstretched fingers, maybe that little hitch in Riku's breath means he's as flustered as she is. When she takes her own turn, leans over her boys' hands and accepts their offering, it feels like her face is on fire. Riku doesn't blush when it's his turn, but he does hesitate for a moment too long, and there's an infinite gentleness to the way he leans over that makes her feel fragile and Sora makes the softest pleading noise when he pulls back again, and just because Riku's not looking at them doesn't mean--

It's so easy to tackle him down to the sand between them that she wonders how they lived so long apart from each other, when it's so natural to curl against his side and hook her fingers into one of Sora's belts that she doesn't even wonder about her lack of nervousness, at the absurd picture they must make, all tangled up and latched onto each other in a way that has to look silly from the outside, but there's no one else to see. The breeze off the water is cool and the boys are so warm, so close, and there's nothing at all scary in the thickly-falling darkness, and Riku's hair looks so pretty under the starlight that she and Sora are both playing with it, very pointedly ignoring his half-vocalized protests, and anyway, between Sora's out-slung legs and her arm across his chest, they've mostly got him pinned.

Like that, they're finally able to sleep, because they're all exhausted, because there is no danger here, but mostly because they're all finally here where they belong.

She and Sora pretend to be asleep when Riku starts awake and then hovers over them for an hour, wide-eyed and clutching their hands tightly enough that his nails bite into their skin, but they squeeze back and don't let go even when he tries to tug himself away again. Later, she keeps her eyes shut as Sora flutters over her and Riku, soft feather-brushes of his fingertips sliding against her cheek and Riku's lips, over and over again, just to feel them breathing. Later still, in the cool gray quiet before dawn, both of her boys stay perfectly still as she brushes kisses against their closed eyelids and breathes in the scent of their skin.

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In the morning, when hunger finally trumps drowsiness, Sora wades into the surf to catch fish barehanded. Kairi shades her eyes and watches him splash about a little awkwardly, a little gracefully, and admires the clean lines of bare boy flesh gleaming in the sun.

"Aren't you supposed to be wood-gathering?" Riku drawls pointedly over her shoulder, and she gives him a halfhearted swat and tells him to go fetch them some paopu and a coconut or two. Then she turns to stare as he jumps up and grabs the fruit right out of the tree, because his shirt rides up an awful lot, and really, who knew the last few years would be so kind to them both?

"It wasn't," Riku grumbles later, gesticulating angrily with a slightly over-roasted fish courtesy of her meager wood-pile and Sora's overenthusiastic fire spell. "It was awful. I kept tripping on nothing 'cause every day the ground got farther away." There's a rather long pause where he won't look at them. "Mickey kept trying not to laugh." Another, longer pause. "It really didn't work."

Kairi smothers her laughter in an unladylike snort. Sora accidentally inhales a bit of paopu while he's giggling. Riku stares determinedly at the horizon, pretending that he's more mature than them even though they both know that what he really wants to do is grab them both for a vicious noogie. Taking pity on him, Kairi very thoughtfully whacks Sora on the back hard enough to send him sprawling, and also incidentally to keep him from choking to death.

"You don't get to talk," she scolds, "you slept right through it and didn't suffer the way Riku and I did."

They both look at her funny. Teenage boys are oblivious, even keyblade masters, and keyblade masters who spent the last two years gallivanting around the universe with only anthropomorphic animals and crazy people for company are even more oblivious than the regular kind of teenage boys.

"Wakka," she explains patiently, "looked up one day and shouted "You have boobs!" at me."

They look at her again, but not at her face, and she isn't sure if she should hit them for being perverts or start cheering because they're actually noticing now. She settles for folding her arms under her breasts and pouting. They keep staring, even though Sora's gone an odd shade of pink and Riku's trying to look like he's not actually looking.

Kairi decides to consider it a victory.

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"...we should go back," Sora says softly, not looking at either one of them, and Kairi closes her eyes and just breathes for a moment. Her father will have panicked by now, and as for their parents...

"Everyone forgot you, for a while," she says softly, staring down at the soft gold sand, "...even you, Riku... the memories got a little fuzzy around the edges. It wasn't too long ago that they started to remember..."

"...when I woke up," Sora finishes softly, curling up and into himself just a little, "that's when it was, right...?"

"...yeah," Riku says, voice solemn and low, thick with all the things he knows and still hasn't told them. "That's when it was."

Their hands are rougher than hers, thick with calluses and crisscrossed with scars, but she squeezes their palms in her own and knows that she is the anchor that holds them here, grounds them both so the stars in their eyes don't sweep them away from her again. She doesn't feel guilty for it, because she fell from the sky once too, and as soon as she's strong enough, they'll reach for them again, finally, together.

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